Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

This article will cover everything you need to know about intensive outpatient programs (IOPs), including what it entails, who it’s suitable for, and what to expect during treatment. If you’re seeking addiction treatment but don’t require 24-hour care, an intensive outpatient program may be the right choice for you.

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What Is an Intensive Outpatient Program?

An intensive outpatient program (IOP) is a type of treatment program that provides a structured and intensive level of care for individuals with mental health or substance use disorders. IOPs are often used as a step down from a more intensive level of care, allowing patients to live at home while undergoing treatment.

Intensive outpatient programs typically involve several hours of therapy and other therapeutic activities each day, several days a week, for several weeks to several months. The exact schedule and duration of the program may vary depending on your specific needs and the program's approach.

IOPs offer various services, including individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, medication management, psychoeducation, and support groups. Those participating in IOP programs can go about their daily lives but require more structure and support for their addiction recovery than outpatient therapy alone. An IOP aims to provide the skills, tools, and support needed to manage symptoms and improve overall functioning.


Yes, intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) commonly offer substance abuse treatment as one of their services. In fact, substance abuse treatment is one of the most common reasons individuals seek out IOPs. Intensive outpatient program substance abuse services typically involve a combination of individual, family, and group psychotherapy, medication management, and other support.

The focus of treatment is to help individuals overcome their substance use disorder by providing them with the tools and skills they need to manage their cravings, avoid relapse, and develop a healthy, sober lifestyle. The duration and intensity of treatment will vary from program to program and according to your needs. However, most programs require several hours of therapy a day, several days per week, for several weeks to several months.


Yes, mental health treatment is frequently provided as one of the services in intensive outpatient programs (IOPs). IOPs are commonly used to treat a range of mental health disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression. In addition, individual and group therapy, medication management, and related are frequently included in intensive outpatient program mental health services. Mental-Health-Treatment-Therapist

IOPs for mental health may also include family counseling or related to strengthen bonds with loved ones and other support networks. Depending on your requirements, the length and intensity of IOP treatment will vary. The goal of treatment is to assist in managing symptoms, enhancing general functioning, and acquiring effective coping mechanisms.


Yes. Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) for eating disorders are specialized programs that focus on treating anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, and other related conditions. Intensive outpatient program eating disorders services typically involve a combination of individual and group therapy, nutritional counseling, and other supportive services.

The focus of IOPs for eating disorders is to help individuals restore a healthy relationship with food, manage their symptoms, and develop healthy coping skills.


Yes, a lot of intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) provide dual diagnosis treatment or care for people who have both substance use and mental health disorders concurrently. In IOPs for co-occurring disorders, a multidisciplinary team of experts, including psychiatrists, psychologists, addiction specialists, and other healthcare providers, collaborate to deliver comprehensive care.

The focus of dual diagnosis treatment in an IOP is to help manage symptoms, reduce substance use, and develop healthy coping skills.


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Does Insurance Cover Intensive Outpatient Programs?

Whether insurance covers intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) depends on your insurance policy and the specific program being considered. In general, many insurance plans cover IOPs as a form of mental health or substance abuse treatment. Some may also offer financial assistance or work with you to develop payment plans or explore other options for covering treatment costs. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurance plans are required to cover mental health and substance abuse treatment as essential health benefits.1 However, the specifics of coverage can vary widely between plans, and there may be limits or exclusions on the number of visits or the types of services covered.

How Much Does an Intensive Outpatient Program Cost?

The cost of an intensive outpatient program (IOP) can vary widely depending on the location, the type of program, the services rendered, and the length of treatment. On average, intensive outpatient programs cost between $2,000 to $5,000, while some facilities may charge up to $10,000 for a three-month treatment program. The cost of an IOP may be significantly lower than the cost of inpatient or residential treatment, as IOPs typically do not require room and board or other living expenses. Additionally, IOPs may offer greater flexibility in scheduling, and you may be able to continue working or attending school while receiving treatment nearby.

How to Find an Intensive Outpatient Program Near Me

With multiple treatment locations in several states, Virtue Recovery Center has been saving individuals from addiction and substance abuse for years. Our accredited treatment facilities can conduct a free assessment remotely by calling 866-461-3339, or you can visit one of our brick-and-mortar intensive outpatient program (IOP) facilities below: Below are a few additional ways to locate intensive outpatient programs within reach:
  • Search online: You can search for local programs using keywords such as “intensive outpatient program in my area” or “intensive outpatient programs near me,” followed by the name of your state or city.
  • Contact your state’s health department: Your state’s health department may have a directory of the nearest intensive outpatient programs in your area. You can find your state’s health department website by searching online or through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.
  • Contact local non-profit organizations: Localized non-profit organizations focusing on substance abuse treatment or mental health may be able to provide you with information on intensive outpatient programs in your area.
  • Check with your health insurance provider: If you have health insurance, your carrier may be able to provide you with information on IOPs that they cover. In addition, Virtue Recovery Center can verify rehab insurance details over the phone. Call 866-611-1628.
  • Ask your healthcare provider: Your doctor or other healthcare provider may be able to provide you with information on intensive outpatient rehab programs in your immediate area.

What is the Intensive Outpatient Program Admissions Process?

Intensive outpatient program (IOP) admittance procedures may vary from facility to facility and program to program. Therefore, to learn more about the program’s particular admissions procedure, it’s advised to contact them directly. Nevertheless, the following general steps are usually part of an IOP admissions process:

  • Initial Assessment: An initial assessment is the first stage in the admissions procedure to ascertain whether the IOP suits your needs. Examining your medical and psychiatric history, drug use history, and current mental health and substance use symptoms may also be part of this, which may require a phone or in-person interview.
  • Insurance Verification: Verifying insurance coverage and determining whether your insurance plan covers the IOP come next. This can entail contacting the insurance provider and informing them of the program, which a healthcare provider, like Virtue Recovery Center, can do for you.
  • Intake Appointment: You’ll typically be booked for an intake visit once the initial examination is over and insurance coverage is confirmed. You’ll complete paperwork at this session, including consent forms and treatment agreements. You may also be asked to give a blood or urine sample for a drug test.
  • Treatment Planning: Following the intake appointment, you will meet with a therapist orcounselor to create a customized treatment plan that considers your unique needs and objectives. This strategy may involve medication management, family counseling, group therapy, individual cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and other services as necessary.
  • Program Orientation: You’ll go through a program orientation explaining the program’s structure and expectations and the services and recovery support available.
  • Treatment: Attending the IOP sessions on time and engaging in the suggested therapies and treatments is the last stage in the admissions process.
How Long is Rehabilitaion Treatment?

How Long are Intensive Outpatient Programs?

The length of rehabilitation programs vary based on individual needs and the severity of the addiction. Below are some typical recovery treatment timeframes.

Short-term rehab programs

Short-term drug and alcohol rehab is a fast-paced, intensive treatment program for substance abuse, typically lasting up to 30 days, designed to provide immediate intervention and a foundation for ongoing recovery.

Learn more: Short-Term Inpatient Drug and Alcohol Rehab Programs Near Me

30-day rehab programs

A 30-day substance addiction rehab is an intensive, short-term treatment program for substance abuse, designed to provide immediate crisis intervention and a foundation for long-term recovery.

Learn more: 28-Day / 30-Day (1 Month) Inpatient Drug and Alcohol Rehab Programs Near Me

Long-term rehab programs

Long-term drug and alcohol addiction rehab is a comprehensive treatment program for substance abuse, typically lasting several months to a year, designed to provide sustained therapeutic support and life skills training for lasting recovery.

Learn more: Long-Term Inpatient Drug and Alcohol Rehab Programs Near Me

60-day rehab programs

A 60-day substance abuse rehab is an extended treatment program for substance abuse, providing comprehensive therapy and support to foster sustained recovery and prevent relapse.

Learn more: 60-Day (2-Month) Inpatient Drug and Alcohol Addiction Rehab Centers Near Me

90-day rehab programs

A 90-day alcohol and drug rehab is a long-term, intensive treatment program for substance abuse, designed to provide in-depth therapy and support to help individuals achieve lasting recovery.

Learn more: 90-Day (3-Month) Inpatient Drug and Alcohol Rehab Programs Near Me

Intensive Outpatient Program Rehabilitation Process and IOP Treatment Schedule

Individuals with substance use disorders and mental health conditions can improve their general functioning and achieve and maintain sobriety with the support of an intensive outpatient program (IOP). The particular rehabilitation procedure will vary according to the severity of your condition and the program. Your healthcare provider will develop a treatment plan specific to your needs and goals.

The IOP rehabilitation process includes the following standard steps:

  • Assessment: The rehabilitation process begins with a comprehensive evaluation to identify your needs and develop a customized treatment plan. This assessment may include medical and psychiatric evaluations, as well as a review of your substance use and mental health history.
  • Individual and Group Therapy: The IOP recovery process must include individual and group therapy. These treatments are intended to assist in learning coping mechanisms, enhancing interpersonal and communication abilities, and addressing any underlying mental health conditions causing your substance abuse.
  • Medication Management: Medication may occasionally be used to manage signs and symptoms of substance use disorders and/or mental health conditions. The IOP recovery process includes medication management, managed by a medical expert.
  • Family Therapy: Family therapy may be included in intensive outpatient rehabilitation to help improve family communication and address any domestic issues contributing to your substance use.
  • Support Groups: support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous are frequently suggested. You may share your experiences, receive peer support, and gain knowledge from others going through similar problems in these organizations’ safe and encouraging environments.
  • Aftercare: After completing an IOP, you’re often encouraged to continue with ongoing treatment and support, such as attending 12-step meetings or participating in individual therapy. This ongoing support can help you maintain sobriety and assist in relapse prevention.


Virtue Recovery Center offers free and confidential drug and alcohol addiction assessment with an experienced therapist at your nearest Recovery Center or over the phone.

Call 866-461-3339 for immediate assistance.

Some Statistics and Information About IOPs

  • Intensive outpatient services are provided by 46% of substance use disorder treatment centers.1
  • IOP therapy works best when it’s part of a continuum of care and is as effective as inpatient treatment.
  • IOPs have been proven to increase abstinence rates, lessen the intensity of substance use disorder symptoms, and reduce substance use frequency.2
  • Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, many IOP programs recently transitioned to telehealth service delivery models.3
  • Three thousand three hundred forty-two outpatients' data were gathered throughout two years. Each underwent a 4-year follow-up of successful outcomes. Patients in hospitals had a 30% success rate. The group for which no therapy was advised had a 60% success rate. Patients who finished their intensive outpatient care experienced a 78% success rate.4
  • The number of clients served in an intensive outpatient rehabilitation facility increased from 1.2 million in 2010 to 1.4 million in 2019.5
  • Generally speaking, involvement in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program for drug addiction for fewer than 90 days is of little value, and therapy lasting substantially longer is advised for sustaining beneficial outcomes.6
  • Alcohol and cocaine dependency were the primary diagnoses in investigations of IOP services.7
  • In a randomized clinical trial studying 234 military personnel and veterans treated with massed or intensive outpatient formats of prolonged exposure therapy, 61% demonstrated clinically significant reductions in clinician-assessed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, and 74% had self-reported symptom reductions at the 1-month follow-up assessment.8

Finding Accredited Addiction Treatment Center

If you’re ready to seek treatment, it’s important to look for an accredited addiction treatment center. Virtue Recovery Center is accredited by the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers and the Joint Commission, both of which have exceptionally high standards. Each accrediting body ensures that a drug rehab or alcohol rehab follows strict guidelines for quality care, giving you extra peace of mind.

Find Hope at Virtue Recovery Center

The staff at Virtue Recovery Center looks forward to helping you and your loved ones on the road to recovery. Get in touch with us today to learn more about our facilities located throughout the United States.

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Sources and Citations
  1. Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA). “About the Affordable Care Act.”, 16 Mar. 2022,
  3. McCarty, Dennis, et al. “Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs: Assessing the Evidence.” Psychiatric Services, vol. 65, no. 6, American Psychiatric Association, June 2014, pp. 718–26.
  4. “Telehealth for the Treatment of Serious Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2021,
  5. Edwards, D., et al. “Positive Results From Outpatient Mental Health Intervention.” Journal of Clinical Psychology, Oct. 1979,
  6. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES. “National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS): 2020: Data on Substance Abuse Treatment Facilities.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2021,
  7. “Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition).” National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Jan. 2018,
  8. McCarty, Dennis, PhD., et al. “Substance Abuse Intensive Outpatient Programs: Assessing the Evidence.” The National Council, Accessed 29 Apr. 2023.
  9. Peterson, Alan L., et al. “Massed Vs Intensive Outpatient Prolonged Exposure for Combat-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.” JAMA Network Open, vol. 6, no. 1, American Medical Association, Jan. 2023, p. e2249422.
  10. DeGraba, Thomas J., et al. “Efficacy of an Interdisciplinary Intensive Outpatient Program in Treating Combat-Related Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health Conditions.” Frontiers in Neurology, vol. 11, Frontiers Media, Jan. 2021,